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Veteran’s Day

College honors military service of students, employees, and alumni

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

WYE MILLS – Moving from military service to civilian life can be a challenge. More veterans today are making community college enrollment part of that transition, according to veterans’ officials. Veteran enrollment at Chesapeake College has increased more than 100 percent in the last three years, according to college officials.

To mark Veterans Day, the college on Tuesday held a campus celebration in the Caroline College Center. Students, alumni and employees who are military veterans were honored at the event and presented with certificates.

Student Robert Karge, Jr., a Marine Corps veteran and president of Chesapeake’s Student Veterans Club, said the event was an example of the college’s renewed efforts to assist veterans.

"I think it says a lot about Chesapeake that they’ve made this commitment to helping veterans," Karge, 25, said. "The certification paperwork alone is a challenge, but when you add that to the transition issues or medical problems then it can be completely overwhelming. The staff here means it when they ask how they can help."

Karge, now a business major, enrolled at Chesapeake in Spring 2010 after he returned from a deployment to Afghanistan. When he is not studying or working on his family’s farm in Preston, Karge is busy trying to reach out to other veteran students on campus.

"I think we’re all very happy and grateful to be here, so we take our coursework pretty seriously. We’re here to get an education and take the step next in our lives," Karge said.

The number of students accessing veterans’ educational benefits at Chesapeake College increased 173 percent from Spring 2008 to Spring 2011, according to Maureen Conlon, who chairs the college’s Veterans Advisory Group. Conlon’s group, formed last year, was created to ensure appropriate services for veterans were in place or could be developed.

Chesapeake President Barbara A. Viniar said the college is proud to count an increasing number of veterans in its student body.

"We are so happy to present new opportunities to people who have given so much to their country," Dr. Viniar said. "We should honor them more than once or twice a year."

Guests at Tuesday’s celebration included Jerry Boden, who is chief of staff to Maryland Veterans Administration Secretary Edward Chow, Jr.; Dick Sossi, who is community liaison for Congressman Andy Harris (R-1st); Del Adelaide Eckardt, and Del. Michael Smigiel.

Sgt. Geraldine Walker Caraballo named Associate Professor Leta Fennell as Blue Star Mother of the Year. Caraballo, commander of American Legion Mannie Scott Post 193 in Denton, is a student at Chesapeake College. She said that Fennell, the wife and mother of servicemen, has been an inspirational mentor.

College officials offered certification and career placement services during the event’s resource fair. In addition, several outside organizations participated in the resource fair. Participants included the Veterans Service Program and Claims Assistance, the local Veterans Employment representative, Operation White Tail, and the Woman’s Auxiliary for VFW Post 5118.

Kent Island Chick-fil-A provided a catered lunch for the veterans and their guests. Barnes & Noble, Safeway, Sodexo, Dunkin’ Donuts of Easton, and the Chesapeake College Alumni and Friends were also event sponsors. In addition, all the veterans in attendance were entered into a prize drawing that included a pair of $250 book scholarships.

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